Hands That Stretch And Reach

Our teen girls Bible study has been meeting for a year now, and these girls are always challenging me. Not just because some days it feels like I'm herding cats, either. It's because I have to read more, study more and pray more to be able to share the Proverbs 31 woman with them. These girls are so smart, and they pick up on things so quickly, asking some great questions.

She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy. Proverbs 31:20

This is the first verse in the virtuous woman's description that moves away from blessing her family and home to working in the community. She has already done so many wonderful things and been an asset to the family, and this is her chance to help her neighbors in some very special ways.

We need to start with the definitions of two words right off the bat. 

Definition of poor: depressed in mind or circumstances, afflicted
Definition of needy: in the sense of want, destitute, beggar

What is the difference? Poor is internal - lacking something emotional or spiritual like encouragement, hope or positive thoughts. You might never be able to tell from the outside that there is anything wrong, but they are still suffering in a very real way.

Needy is external - missing something physically like money, a home, decent meals or a job. These are easier to see, but no less difficult to change or fix. Dignity and pride are often stumbling blocks here, so it really takes the work of the Holy Spirit to know what to do, when to do it and how to help in the most respectful ways.

It's also important to note that this woman is stretching and reaching with her hands. She's not waiting for opportunities to come an arm's length away. She sees who needs her, and she goes to them with a willing heart. Her hands are wide open.

Now here are two questions to ask yourself: When have you helped someone who was poor, needy or possibly both? How can you help now, stretching and reaching for those around you? Today is the perfect day to change a life.

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